Review: Eyimofe (2020)

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Eyimofe (2020)

Directed by: Arie Esiri, Chuko Esiri | 116 minutes | drama | Actors: Emmanuel Adeji, Mary Agholor, Kemi Lala Akindoju, Ivy Akinyode, Jude Akuwudike, Jacob Alexander, Temiloluwa Ami-Williams, Ashia, Ejike Asiegbu, Chiemela Azurunwa, Sadiq Daba, Derby, Cynthia Ebijie, Edward Eboh, Tomiwa , Oludara Egerton-Shyngle, Oludara Egerton-Shyngle

The electrician Mofe and the sisters Rosa and Grace have various reasons for leaving their country of origin, Nigeria. However, all three share a similar despair about their current situation. Mofe’s working conditions are life-threatening and other work is very difficult to find; the unwanted pregnant Grace is the child of her sister Rosa, who works hard to support the two. The possibility of a better life in the West beckons, even if they will have to leave home, hearth and family to do so. Twin brothers Arie and Chuko Esiri’s full-length debut, ‘Eyimofe’, is slow to start but once it gets its rhythm it offers a unique insight into the daily lives of three people who decide to emigrate.

The Esiri brothers are big fans of the work of Edward Yang (‘Yi Yi’, 2000) and Hou Hsiao-Hsien (‘Three Times’, 2005). This is well reflected in the calm approach to the subject and characters in their own work. It’s safe to say that the film style of ‘Eyimofe’ is anti-hunted, almost minimalist. The directors mainly use longshots, let the camera move little and use an elliptical montage, sometimes resulting in hilarity. The pace of the film is therefore quite slow. However, the colorful and busy street life of Lagos partly compensates for this. The Nigerian metropolis is in fact the fourth protagonist in the film and ‘Eyimofe’ shows with penetrating images that it is not all doom and gloom in the metropolis.

Incidentally, ‘Eyimofe’ does not portray the local rich and wealthy foreigners as pure bad guys, profiteers of poverty, but the film strongly suggests that they themselves are prisoners of environments that revolve around prestige and money. The story does not shy away from unpleasant scenes between Rosa and her sugar daddy from home and abroad. For example, Rosa’s local ‘family friend’ is obstinately pushy and demanding. Yet he often helps her out. And although the Lebanese American Peter, whom Rosa meets during her job in a bar, is much more courteous, he feels very uncomfortable with her dependent position.

The warm ‘Eyimofe’ looks at its characters with precision and compassion. The twin brothers Esiri tell the story in a very balanced way, not angry, hasty or judgmental, even if it is about a people smuggler. The almost jaunty minimalism of the film therefore harbors a great humanistic heart for the capriciousness and possibilities of a metropolis like Lagos.

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